Significant recent energy market shifts in Australia have created a number of cogeneration opportunities for BioSyngas.
The Biomass to Power and Heat in Australia is in its infancy …
Biomass to Power installations in operation in Australia total around 8 MWe, in generation capacity in 2012, equating to around 0.009% of Australia’s total installed power generation capacity .
In Europe, North America and South America there are many projects in operation. Biomass to Power currently accounts for 3 percent of global electricity generation capacity.
Unlike other types of renewable energy where the conversion technology is the key component, for Biomass the whole system needs to be considered. This entails gaining an understanding of the biomass resource, namely, how to cost-effectively process and deliver this resource in a form that matches the conversion technology selected for a plant. For this reason commercial generation of electricity from biomass is only viable in a unique set of circumstances which BioSyngas has developed the specific skills and resources required to identify and serve.
There are four key drivers supporting BioSyngas’ business at this time in Australia:-
|1. National Electricity Market (NEM)||Firstly the National Electricity Market (NEM) covering the east coast of Australia is one of the longest single interconnected power systems in the world. The NEM comprises of 750,000 kilometres of distribution and 40,000 kilometres of transmission infrastructure to supply a geographically disperse load across multiple climatic zones. As a comparison, in the United Kingdom around 800,000 kilometres of distribution and 25,000 kilometres of transmission infrastructure serves a population which more than three times that served by the NEM The costs involved in transmission and distribution over such a large network/highly distributed system are significant. By supplying power directly from a BioSyngas plant to an “off grid” customer certain of these costs (currently incurred by customers) can be avoided.|
|2. Industrial (and residential) power prices||Secondly, industrial (and residential) power prices across Australia have increased almost 80 per cent, over the past five years. This is a significant drain on the bottom line for many business and provides the solid commercial basis for BioSyngas to offer an alternative source of affordable power to customers. These prices are expected to continue to rise driven by increases in natural gas prices as gas is diverted to LNG exports. In parts of Australia natural gas power generation provides 60% of power needed. Increased gas prices are likely to increase generation costs and be passed on to customers. Our combined focus on both Biomass and Natural gas means that in the event Natural gas prices increase significantly Biosyngas has the necessary expertise and capability to convert to Biomass. For BioSyngas this means leveraging complimentary competencies across biomass and natural gas to readily support customers as part of risk mitigation strategy in this changing environment.|
|3. Efficiency of Co-generation||Thirdly, in terms of energy generation, co-generation by its very nature is more efficient than separate processes and their support infrastructure costs. That is, NEM sourced power and heat produced using natural gas fired boilers. Over the past ten years there have been significant technology advances which have reduced the costs of manufacturing smaller scale equipment e.g. gas engines and turbines and improvements to their reliability and efficiency, reducing economy of scale effects and improving overall commerciality. Find out more|
|4. Specialist Expertise & Efficient Capital Investment||As a dedicated and specialised energy company having secured expertise in design, construction and operation of co-generation plants through its partners, BioSyngas can more cost effectively develop projects than parties undertaking projects of this nature for the first time. BioSyngas also brings development funds and capital to projects which customers would otherwise have to secure from within their businesses potentially competing with investments in their core business.|
 The Australian National Electricity Market: Choosing a New Future, World Energy Forum Canada May 2012, John Pierce Chairman the Australian Energy Market Commission
 The Australian newspaper No end in sight to soaring electricity prices by Brendan Pearson on February 19, 2014
Biomass is available in Australia
There are 2.02 million hectares of commercial forestry plantations in Australia (comprising 0.26% of Australia’s total land area and 1.4% of the afforested area in Australia). These plantations are made up of a combination of hardwood (e.g. Eucalyptus species) and softwood (e.g. Pinus Radiata). The land area used for Commercial forestry plantations in Australia has doubled since the 1990’s. (Forest covers approximately 149.4 million hectares or 19% of Australia’s land area, ranking it in the top 10 worldwide. Most of the forests in Australia are native forest. Native forest wood waste or material of any sort is not a feedstock for any of BioSyngas’ projects, nor will it be.)
Bin Wood, that is, left over in-forest commercial forestry process waste is BioSyngas’ primary focus in terms of biomass feedstock. Currently bin wood is typically burnt into the atmosphere prior to the replanting of young trees as part of commercial forestry processes or simply left to degrade. For the species Pinus Radiata this degradation process typically takes 2 to 3 years (depending on local conditions). On top of this, leaves and branches typically break off and remain in the forest as a result of (and depending on) the harvesting techniques employed as well as local conditions.
In addition to Bin Wood BioSyngas looks to draw on sawmill waste wood as another feedstock source. That is, the waste from the processing of the timber logs/raw timber resources received from the forest by sawmills for processing into a range of wood products. There are a number of small biomass to power plants located at sawmills which use this material in Australia. Sawmill waste is typically used at sawmills to produce heat as fuel into kilns or boilers, where it is typically co-fired with other fuels.
Alternatives to energy generation include collection of this wood chip for export and use in pulp and paper production or in other ways. Demand for wood chip has changed significantly over recent years and is continuing to adjust as a result of the digitalisation of print media delivery channels. The demand for news print paper has decreased significantly around the world. In addition Australia must compete on the waste wood chip market with Latin American and Asian suppliers, who have large modern industries and labour cost advantages relative to Australia.
The bottom-line is that increased land area covered by commercial forestry plantations (and the increased biomass quantities produced as a result), together with greater competition in the global market for wood waste produced in Australia, means that local commercial solutions are needed such as those being developed by BioSyngas, namely collection and conversion to energy
 Australian Energy Resource Assessment, Chapter 12 – BioEnergy 2012. Undertaken jointly by Geoscience Australia and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) at the request of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.
Natural gas to Power and Heat in Australia is well established
Combustion of natural gas in turbines (Open cycle or Combined Cycle) or in gas engines to generate power is relatively common practice around the world. There are more than 2,250 plants natural gas to power plants in operation around the world today.
The scale of these plants varies considerably. A large number of plants are considered small i.e. less than 50 MWe while in Japan there are several large plants of between (3,000 and 5,000) MWe in size. The largest gas to power plant is understood to be 5,597 MWe in generation capacity and located in Russia (the Surgut-2 Power Station).
In Australia there are more than 50 natural gas fired power plants supplying electricity into the national electricity grid. They have an average rated generation capacity of 250 MWe.
Electricity production from natural gas was measured as 19.38% of the total generation capacity in 2012 (by the World Bank). One third of all natural gas used in the domestic economy is used to supply energy.
There are many hundreds more gas fired power plants supplying energy directly to industry in Australia.
 Getting Gas Right, Grattan Institute, June 2013.